Proteomics Center at Children's Hospital Boston Marks Grand Opening with Day-long Symposium
February 17, 2006
Emerging science builds on Human Genome Project to seek clues about disease
Marking the grand opening of its state-of-the-art Proteomics Center, Children's Hospital Boston will present a day-long symposium, Proteomics 2006, on Thursday, February 23, from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. at Enders Auditorium (320 Longwood Avenue, Boston). The event, open to the public, will feature talks by four internationally recognized proteomics scientists and three young investigators at Children's who are using this new science to better understand how the body works and seek clues about disease.
Informal tours of the Proteomics Center -- one of just a handful in the Boston area -- will follow. For a full schedule of events, visit: www.childrenshospital.org/cfapps/research/data_admin/Site2203/mainpageS2203P10.html.
Proteomics, the study of an organism's complete complement of proteins, picks up where the Human Genome Project left off, asking what proteins each gene codes for and what they do in the body. The Proteomics Center at Children's Hospital Boston will enable researchers at Children's and other Boston institutions to identify and quantify all the proteins in a cell, tissue or even a complete organism and investigate their structures and functions -- information that's expected to yield big dividends in both pediatric and adult medicine.
"To really understand biological processes, we need to understand how proteins function in and around cells since they are the functioning units," says Hanno Steen, PhD, director of the $2.6 million Center.
The Center will enable investigators at Children's -- home to the world's largest research enterprise based at a pediatric medical center -- to conduct large-scale, systematic studies of many proteins at once. The facility, staffed by six scientists, has five high-performance liquid chromatography systems, which separate and sort proteins in a tissue sample, and four state-of-the-art mass-spectrometers, which detect and quantify proteins in a sample and measure them to determine their structure, characteristics and identity. It also has five high-powered computers to analyze the massive data output of the mass spectrometers -- hundreds of megabytes per hour -- and powerful bioinformatics tools to help reveal how groups of proteins interact and collaborate in the body.
Users at Children's will range from the hospital's Genomics Program, studying how genetic variations lead to disease, to clinical researchers seeking diagnostic and prognostic markers that can be used in patients. Some examples:
- Judah Folkman, MD, Marsha Moses, PhD, Roopali Roy, PhD, and Bruce Zetter, PhD in Vascular Biology are doing proteomic studies of urine and blood to find "biomarkers" that can help diagnose cancers and predict how aggressive they will be.
- In Neuroscience, Michael Greenberg, PhD and colleagues using proteomics to examine chemical modifications to proteins that help regulate the development of synapses -- points of communication between brain cells -- and ultimately cognitive function.
- Nephrology researcher Asher Schachter is using proteomics to study nephrotic syndrome, a kidney disease in which large amounts of protein are leaked into the urine. He is searching for substances in the blood that may predict whether a child will respond to steroid treatment, and for substances that may cause nephrotic syndrome to recur in children who have received kidney transplants.
- In Urology, Michael Freeman, PhD, Keith Solomon, PhD, Richard Lee, MD and colleagues are using proteomics tools to categorize the entire collection of urine proteins and understand how the "urine proteome" changes in urologic disease. They are also using proteomics to detect changes in bladder tissue that may be associated with disease progression.
- Katsutosh Goishi, MD, PhD is using proteomics to study cataract formation in a zebrafish model. He has discovered a mutant form of zebrafish that develops cataracts, and is now using proteomics techniques to study zebrafish with other genetic mutations and understand what is causing the cataracts and how to reverse them.
- Researchers in Orthopedic Surgery are using proteomics to study phosphoproteins in bone and their role in bone mineralization, a process that is disrupted in many bone diseases.
- Tucker Collins, MD, PhD and colleagues in Pathology are using proteomics to develop tissue profiling of biopsy specimens. For example, a profile of proteins expressed in a tumor may help identify the tumor type and allow accurate prediction of disease progression, complementing classic histologic approaches.
While similar to genomics, proteomics is far more complex: proteins have much more complicated structures than genes do, and while the genome is essentially hard-wired, the proteome continually changes. And the proteome is much larger than the genome: the 35,000 genes in the human genome correspond to at least ten times as many proteins. In extreme cases, over 1,000 proteins can come from a single gene.
For a virtual tour of the Proteomics Center at Children's Hospital Boston, visit www.childrenshospital.org/tour/VR_Proteomics.cfm.
For interactive feature on proteomics, where users can learn how to identify and sequence proteins using high-performance liquid chromatography, mass spectroscopy and informatics, visit http://www.childrenshospital.org/cfapps/research/data_admin/Site602/mainpageS602P0.html.
Proteomics 2006 is sponsored by hospital's Surgical Research Council and the following vendors: Thermo Electron, GE HealthCare, Advion and Applied Biosystems.
For further information:
Children's Hospital Boston is home to the world's largest research enterprise based at a pediatric medical center, where its discoveries have benefited both children and adults since 1869. More than 500 scientists, including eight members of the National Academy of Sciences, nine members of the Institute of Medicine and 10 members of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute comprise Children's research community. Founded as a 20-bed hospital for children, Children's Hospital Boston today is a 347-bed comprehensive center for pediatric and adolescent health care grounded in the values of excellence in patient care and sensitivity to the complex needs and diversity of children and families. Children's also is the primary pediatric teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School. For more information about the hospital and its research visit: http://www.childrenshospital.org/research/.
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